Philippines Days 4-6: Sagada (Jan 2017)

Timothy Teoh
7 min readFeb 27, 2018

Part 1:

Im not a beach person and I wanted a chilly place to…chill, so I’d decided to head to the highlands. Fewer tourists, too!

The journey to Sagada was pretty tiring! It was almost exactly 12 hours.

Caught glimpses of the fabled rice terraces as the bus neared its destination.

I did wonder to myself how the farmers accessed the terraces and where they stayed — I would duly find out towards the end of my trip.

The bus stopped at Bontoc and from there we had to take a jeepnay to Sagads itself.

First thing you need to do when arriving at any mountain town in the Philippines is to register at the tourist center, which has maps and lists of tours. You need to get a tour guide to go to any of the landmarks no matter how easy they are to access.

I found Sagada to be a very ulu, rustic place (spoiler alert Im typing this blog post from somewhere ten times more ulu wtf stupid me).

Guess what this building is?

It’s the Bank of Sagada. 😂

I had to change some USD into pesos. To my surprised the guy there said “No, no, our rate here is quite high. Change it at X inn instead.”

So nice right? And yup the rate at the inn was indeed better.

I had decided to #YOLO this part of the trip and was feeling a bit of regret. I was dead tired and was thinking “wah so ULUUUU” walking down the street and eyeballing the inns.

Lots of stray (but well behaved) dogs. I think these are Samoyeds? Most of them had fluffier coats then in the lowlands.

As I was walking down I saw a sign pointing to “Inandako’s B&B”. I vaguely remembered seeing this name on tripasvisor, so I decided to check it out.

It was cozy inside with mostly wood furniture. The owner Alma had grown up in Sagada and later started a dental practice there.

In her retirement she had this place built for herself, and invited friends from Manila over. They raved about the place, started telling their friends, and word gradually spread.

Inandako means “mother of Dako” which is her son’s name.

My memory served me right though — this was indeed the #1 listing in Sagada.

It was a bit out of the way… But had a spectacular view of the cliffs (you cant see it clearly in this picture)

After a nap I decided to go and see the main attraction of Sagada — the hanging coffins at Echo Valley.

Passed by St. Mary’s church on the way.

After getting sleep and food, I felt in a better mood and started to appreciate the nice weather and different flora in the highlands. Sagada is surrounded by a beautiful pine forest.

Got to a gate where I was told a tour guide was needed to proceed. As luck would have it, two Frenchwomen were there too so we split the cost.

We also had to pay another nominal fee to pass through a cemetery to get to the valley lol

First glimpse of the coffins. This was also a good spot to test how Echo Valley got its name. A few other locals who were here were shouting into the valley. And yup, the echo was clear and loud.

Up close with the hanging coffins. Apparently this is a way to protect them from the elements. Not just anyone can make a hanging coffin too: you need to have spent a certain amount of time here; be married with kids; and be the first among your siblings to pass away wtf.

I wonder what the application form looks like

Peeked inside the church on the way back. Jesus thats ine creepy Jesus.

Took a hike to a nearby viewpoint before heading back to the town center.

Had dinner at Strawberry Cafe which had great strawberry yoghurt.

I was up at five freaking AM the next day. Why? Because the nearby Mount Kiltepan apparently has a sunrise view over the rice terraces to die for, sunrise is at 6am, and and I’m too cool to just take a jeepnay up like sane people.

So I dutifully had a quick snack and headed out into the darkness. I had the foresight to buy a flashlight the day before, which was good cos most parts of the road had no lights at all!

As luck would have it, I bumped into two locals after about twenty minutes. They offered to teman me up.

One was a Sagada local who was studying in Manila. She’d offered to show the other guy (also a student from Manila) to the peak so he didnt have to get a proper guide.

He kept asking me if Malaysia had weed/ganja wtf. Naturally the conversation veered towards Duterte’s anti-crime measures. He and our “guide” proceeded to have quite a heated debate over it while I kept quiet.

We arrived at the top to find sane people already there and gathered around a fire.

Sad to say, it wasnt my day as it was too cloudy for a good sunrise shot. I could see up close how beautiful it would have been though.

Nah I try filtering it a bit.

As we made our way down it had gotten brighter and I could appreciate how beautiful the trail was.

My companions wanted to go to a small waterfall nearby so I tagged along. Our native Sagadan knew her away around well and took us through a few shortcuts.

A great view just before our destination.

The waterfall itself was okla I wouldnt write home about it. Only worth one Dayre post.

We parted ways when we returned to Sagada. It was only 830am! I decided to have breakfast at a cafe with a good view.

Had rice with bangus and eggs.

When I got back I found Alma waiting…with breakfast. She had forgotten to remind me (there was a sign in the lobby) and I had forgotten what the second “b” in b&b stood for. She had lovingly prepared a home cooked meal…

…Of rice, bangus and eggs. Wtf what are the odds?

I gamely worked my way through it (to be fair, her version of bangus was better).

I skipped lunch that day.

I spent the rest of the day lazing in my room and came out in the evening for dinner.

Tried the Sagadan specialty lemon pie at Sagada Lemon Pie House, and boy it lived up to expectations. It was the best lemon pie I’d ever had!

Okla I’ve never had lemon pie before. But it was great! And only PHP30 per slice which is less than RM3.



Timothy Teoh

Full-stack software architect and technology leader from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia